The real world is not always perfect, and I think one of the things that people like about jewelry is when they look at it, they can see a perfect world in that piece of jewelry. I think that’s part of its appeal.

Thomas Gentille

Thomas Gentille b. 1936

Thomas Gentille’s illustrious career spans over 50 years and began at the Cleveland Institute of Art. He graduated with a BFA, majoring in painting with a minor in sculpture. It wasn’t until his senior year that he first took a jewelry course. After graduation he joined the army and was stationed in Germany. Upon his arrival back home, he moved to New York City. Initially struggling to work full-time as a jeweler, he took on many part-time jobs, most fruitfully as a handyman at the then, Museum of Contemporary Arts. As he continued to design pieces, his precision and technical detail gained him recognition throughout the design world. He gravitated towards non-conventional materials such as eggshell. The technique he developed to inlay eggshell was meticulous and became a signature.

Gentille has been pivotal in jewelry education, he wrote the book Step-by-Step Jewelry in 1968, which is still regarded as a helpful aid to students today. He also helped to found the jewelry program at 92nd Street Y and lectured at Parsons School of Design. His one-of-a-kind pieces reside internationally in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and Die Neue Sammlung (The Design Museum), Munich. Gentille has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Herbert Hofmann Prize, 2001 and the Bavarian State Prize, 2004. More recently he was chosen to the American Craft Council’s College of Fellows. Gentille is one of the foremost studio jewelers in today’s world.